The National Basketball Association (NBA) has changed the format of All-Star voting. This was done to make the All-Star game more exciting to watch for the fans.
The NBA has done-away with the old Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference match-up. Instead, “two captains will draft the 2018 All-Star teams from the pool of players voted as starters and reserves, making selections without regard for conference affiliation. The captains will be the All-Star starter from each conference who receives the most fan votes in his conference” (NBA.com, 2017).
Milwaukee Bucks’ superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo was the top vote-getter in the first return of the All-Star votes, which was released on Jan. 4, 2018. Antetokoumpo had received 863,416 total votes, while LeBron James was trailing closely with 856,080 votes.
The biggest surprise from the first returns of the voting was that Los Angeles Lakers’ rookie point-guard Lonzo Ball has received more votes than NBA veteran Jimmy Butler.
The five players that I believe should make the All-Star game but probably won’t are: Rajon Rondo (NOP), Bradley Beal (WAS), Vince Carter (SAC), Zach Randolph (SAC), and Dwight Howard (CHA).
Rajon Rondo is having another great year for the Pelicans. Rondo is averaging 7.4 points-per-game (PPG), and 8.3 assists-per-game (APG). Rondo has recorded eight games with over 10 assists in 24 appearances this season, including a 25-assist night against the Brooklyn Nets. Rondo has returned to form in New Orleans after spending the last few seasons with Dallas, Sacramento, and Chicago. Rondo has never been a true scorer, but can pass the ball like nobody’s business. Rondo deserves to be in the All-Star game because he brings the flashy passing to the game that nobody else does.
Bradley Beal is having the best year of his career, which makes it even more unfortunate that he will not be voted to the All-Star game. Beal is averaging a career best 23.6 PPG, 4.4 rebounds-per-game (RPG), and 3.6 APG. Beal has scored over 35 points in five games this season, including a 51-point performance against the Portland Trailblazers. Bradley Beal won’t make the All-Star team because the guard-play is too high across the league right now. With guards like Steph Curry, James Harden, Kyrie Irving, and Chris Paul available for the two captains, the only way I see Beal getting into the All-Star game is as a reserve and that is still a very slim chance.
Vince Carter deserves one last All-Star nod. At the tender age of 40 years old, Carter has been limited by injuries this season, but has proven to be a tremendous leader on and off the court for the Kings this season. Carter has also shown some flashes of the young Vinsanity that we all once knew. When Carter matched up against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, he showed that he can turn the clock back and ended up finishing the game with 24 points. We don’t know how much longer Carter has left in the tank, and I think one last nod to one of the greatest to ever play the sport of basketball would be welcomed by all.
Zach Randolph has more than earned a spot into the upcoming All-Star game with his performances this season. Randolph is averaging 15.2 PPG with 6.9 RPG to tag along. Zebo never fails to entertain when he is on the basketball court. Randolph is one of the very few old-school basketball players left tin the league. Randolph played in an era that was much more physical, which is evident with how physical he continues to play on defense. Zebo is also the type of player willing to lay it all out there on the court.
I have been saying this for about two months now, but Dwight Howard (below), in my opinion, is the clear-cut MVP of the NBA this season. He has completely resurrected his career with the Charlotte Hornets, as he is averaging 15.7 PPG and 12.1 RPG. Howard has not averaged over 15.0 PPG since the 2014 season when he was with the Houston Rockets. Howard recently moved into 19th on the all-time rebound list as well. Howard is also consistently putting up stats on the stat sheet, accounting for 21 double-doubles on the year, which is only second to Andre Drummond of the Detroit Pistons whom has 26 double-doubles. Howard is fun to watch on both ends of the floor, but also at the free-throw line. Howard has been known to struggle at the free-throw line in his career, but has corrected his shot since arriving in Charlotte. Howard is currently shooting 59 percent from the free-throw line.